In a statement peppered with the word ‘Europe’, Suzuki claimed its redesigned Hungarian-built Swift supermini was readied for European tastes by designers who completely revised the way in which they developed the new small Japanese car.
“The new Swift embodies a new, globally oriented approach to car-making,” the company, part-owned by General Motors, said in press material prepared for the model’s Paris show public debut.
“From the very beginning of its development programme, a dedicated team of designers and engineers collaborated closely with European automotive professionals and ordinary motoring enthusiasts in pursuit of Suzuki’s best compact car ever.”
Suzuki previewed the 2005 Swift at the 2003 Frankfurt show, when it showed the dimensionally similar Concept S2 to gather consumer feedback.
The car maker said plans for its new car took shape around a totally new mindset: whereas Japanese car development often focuses first on the needs of Japanese motorists, the Swift’s designers and engineers focused on Europe – the new model was planned as a Japanese car developed on the continent for the global market.
The designers established a European base and reassessed the company’s concept of car design while working with local designers, “who gave valuable insight into the European mindset”, according to the company. However, they remained in Europe for only six months.
The new Swift’s handling is claimed to reflect a clear European focus. Engineers developed a totally new platform and refined it through track tests and during a programme of road testing across the continent. At every step, they claim, they incorporated feedback from local car enthusiasts and now assert the handling will satisfy “the most exacting European motorists”.
The Swift will be sold in Europe with a choice of three upgraded engines – the 1.3-litre M13A petrol engine, the 1.5-litre M15A petrol engine, and the 1.3-litre DDiS diesel engine – and with choice of three transmissions (a five-speed manual, a five-speed automated manual transmission and a four-speed automatic.
Key technologies of the petrol engines include variable valve timing (used with the 1.5-litre petrol engine), which helps to maximise torque and power throughout the rev range.
The 1.3-litre diesel engine has a common-rail fuel-injection system for “superior” performance, emission control, and fuel efficiency. It breathes through an intercooled turbocharger, which helps to deliver a strong, flat torque curve with smooth response at low engine speeds.
The five-speed manual transmission (used with both petrol engines and DDiS) has an updated short-stroke design with enhanced shift linkages.
The five-speed automated manual transmission, now essential to match European B-segment rivals and used with the 1.3-litre petrol engine) offers both automated shifting and manual shifting, and its automated mode has two driver-selectable settings: economy and normal.
The four-speed automatic transmission (used with the 1.5-litre petrol engine) has a gated shift lever common in sports saloons and coupés but rarely seen in the supermini segment.
To achieve their definition of European handling and ride, the engineers built the new body on a new platform incorporating new, specially developed chassis systems.
The new Swift has class-widest treads (front: 1470mm, rear: 1480mm), a class-greatest overall width (1,690mm), and a long wheelbase (2,390mm) to benefit interior spaciousness and on-road stability and comfort.
The front suspension has a new design in which the lower arms, steering gearbox, and rear engine mounting are attached to a suspension subframe. This design gives significantly higher mounting rigidity, which translates into lower road noise and a stronger feeling of stability.
The new Swift is said to break further new ground by being equipped with torsion-beam rear suspension, which gives a superior combination of handling stability and ride comfort. One specific merit of the new arrangement is low unsprung weight, which enables camber angle and toe-in to be controlled effectively for accurate and predictable handling. Another merit is a space-efficient layout that permits a low, flat luggage-area floor.
To further enhance the driving experience, the power-assisted steering system has a newly developed steering gearbox that gives a more direct feel. And for further controllability, the braking system has an upgraded design in which increased caliper rigidity and other enhancements give sure stopping power.
The company also claims class-leading protection from collisions and theft, which are closely assessed by potential buyers in the competitive European national markets.
Specific safety features include high-tensile steel and tailored blanks used extensively in the body shell to ensure lightness and strength, plus structures (notably in the bonnet, fenders, wipers, and front bumper) that help protect pedestrians in the event of contact.
Inside, a collapsible steering column, leg-injury-mitigating brake and clutch pedals, front-seatbelt pretensioners and force limiters, energy-absorbing trim, front airbags, and available side and curtain airbags are specified.
Four-wheel antilock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution system and brake assist bring the Swift, whose ancient predecessor was launched back in the late 1980s, right up to date with European rivals.
Theft protection measures include a keyless start system (this permits keyless unlocking, engine startup, and locking), an immobiliser and tamper-resistant door locks.
Ten of the available body colours were newly developed using environment-friendly water-based paint.